Criminals in T&T are sending their operatives into schools to recruit vulnerable children, offering them money to join gangs.
This was revealed by Sgt Roger Worrell, who is in charge of the Community Police Unit in the South Western Division, when he spoke at a seminar at the Palo Seco Secondary School hosted by the Hindu Youth Association of T&T.
Worrell warned students of the school to stay away from gangs as the way out is often death.
“You have to make yourself a very difficult target as you move about your daily lives because while there are not gangs in schools, there are reports of gangs recruiting students from schools,” he said.
“A lot of gang members make themselves known by certain styles of clothes, tattoos and codes and most students are familiar with the signs and are able to identify a gang or gang members.
“Don’t get involved in gang activity because once you are involved it is very difficult to get out. A lot of times the end result is death.”
Worrell explained that gangs often have many different tiers and members are responsible for different activities.
“They will have a gang leader, some people responsible for the finance, some people responsible for buying food for the gang leaders, because they cannot leave their areas, people who responsible for getting the firearms, people who hide the firearms and most time they tend to use the younger ones who police might not suspect as being involved in gang or illegal activities,” he said.
He said by pooling their resources, criminal gangs have been able to infiltrate schools and target vulnerable students, providing them with financial incentives.
“They use all their resources.
“There are recruiting officers and they look at the weak students, the vulnerable students, and target them, whether they are going to make books available to them that we cannot do, whether they are going to make money available to them for travelling, and they try to get them involved and eventually they become gang members because they show the students a good life and a better standard of living than they presently have,” he said.
Worrell appealed to teachers to do more for their students. He said often children who find themselves targets of gangs do not have a strong parental figure to look up to. He said teachers should fill that gap to save their students.
“It requires much more to give a comprehensive all round upliftment of these students and I am asking these teachers that they become parents so that they can find out what are some of the social issues facing these children because so many children do not have parents to look up too as a guidance,” he said.